Cable lobby will “tweak” bill banning municipal broadband in Kansas

The Kansas legislation that would make it nearly impossible for cities and towns to offer broadband service to residents will be “tweaked” to make it less restrictive.

As we wrote this morning, the legislation was submitted to the Kansas state Senate by the Kansas Cable Telecommunications Association (KCTA), whose members include Comcast, Cox, Eagle Communications, and Time Warner Cable.

It was scheduled for discussion on Tuesday, but KCTA President John Federico just confirmed to Ars that the group will request that the hearing be postponed. The group’s board met today and decided that “some tweaking of language is necessary in the bill, in particular how we are defining unserved areas,” Federico said.

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$499 first-generation Surface Pro is something of a steal

Microsoft must have built a lot of the first-generation, Ivy Bridge-powered Surface Pro tablets, because they’re still on sale, even though they’ve been nominally replaced by the Haswell-powered Surface Pro 2.

But that’s OK, because the Ivy Bridge units are still pretty nice machines: good screens, decent performance, stylus input, and of course, the Surface’s trademark kickstand. And for a limited time only, they’re an absolute bargain: toddle along to your nearest Best Buy or Microsoft Store—or buy online—and you can pick one up for $499.

That’s the same price that the original Surface RT model launched at. You can still pick one of those up if you want, though it’ll set you back $299 if you do.

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How I almost lost my $500,000 Twitter username @jb… and my startup

Josh Bryant is the co-founder and CEO of Droplr, a collaboration tool for sharing files. He has also worked for Incredible Labs (makers of Donna) and He lives in Bend, Oregon. This post originally appeared on his personal blog.

If you haven’t yet, read Naoki Hiroshima’s account of how he was blackmailed into giving his Twitter account away. I read it on Wednesday, and the story was all too familiar to me. My version also has a few implications that are far worse.

I’m @jb on both Twitter and Instagram. My username is a very heavy target for these types of attacks. It used to be primarily because of the Jonas Brothers, but of course now it’s all related to Justin Bieber. With the marketing power behind Bieber’s name, there are thousands of companies or hackers who would love to get their grubby hands on my username for profit. Like Naoki, I too have been offered inordinate sums of money for my username, and I get a regular stream of “forgot password” e-mails to my inbox.

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Feds: If you mine or trade Bitcoin on your own, that’s totally cool

Cornering the Bitcoin market may be easier than cornering orange juice futures.
Paramount Pictures / Aurich Lawson

As it turns out, if you mine or trade Bitcoin “solely [for your own] purposes,” the United States Department of the Treasury doesn’t need you to register as a money transmitter as defined under the Bank Secrecy Act. Similarly, companies that invest in Bitcoin don’t need to register either.

A new four-page document published Thursday by the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has further clarified financial rules pertaining to Bitcoin.

In March 2013, FinCEN’s rules stipulated that “a person that creates units of convertible virtual currency and sells those units to another person for real currency or its equivalent is engaged in transmission to another location and is a money transmitter” and is therefore subject to federal regulations.

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Obama on net neutrality: I wouldn’t be president without an open Internet

President Barack Obama today spoke about the recent court decision that gutted the nation’s network neutrality law, saying that he expects the FCC to take action to preserve the open Internet, which proved crucial in his presidential campaign.

“It’s something that I’ve cared deeply about ever since I ran for office, in part because my own campaign was empowered by a free and open Internet and the ability for citizens all across the country to engage and create and find new ways and new tools to mobilize themselves,” Obama said. “A lot of that couldn’t have been done if there were a lot of commercial barriers and roadblocks and so I’ve been a strong supporter of net neutrality.”

The Federal Communications Commission passed the current net neutrality rules, via the Open Internet Order, in 2010 during Obama’s first term. The rules prevented Internet service providers from blocking Web applications or charging for access to the network. Verizon challenged the rules and got them overturned, but the FCC could rewrite the order to put it on a more solid legal footing.

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Patent troll CEO explains why company wants names of EFF donors

Carl Malamud’s “Geek of the Week” Internet radio show, which dates to 1993, is one piece of “prior art” that EFF says should knock out the Personal Audio podcasting patent.

The patent-holding company that wants all podcasters to pay up is just looking for a fair shake.

The CEO and general counsel of Personal Audio LLC got on the phone with Ars Technica to explain why the company is asking for the identities of more than 1,300 donors who have chipped in to help the Electronic Frontier Foundation fight its podcasting patent. The subpoena seeking donor identities and a wide array of other information connected to EFF’s fight against the patent was revealed by EFF in a Wednesday blog post. EFF has moved to quash the subpoena in court, saying that while some donors are very public about their support, they also have a First Amendment right to contribute anonymously.

The fundraiser in question was kicked off by EFF to pay for what’s called an “inter partes review” at the US Patent and Trademark Office. EFF sought to raise $30,000, but Personal Audio’s attempt to make patent demands against podcasters struck a nerve: to date, about $80,000 has been raised from more than 1,300 donors.

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New Snowden docs show Canadian spies tracked thousands of travelers

According to newly published documents, Canadian spies tracked thousands of travelers online for days after they left an unnamed Canadian airport.

This revelation, gleaned from 2012 slides (PDF) provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden, shows that the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) conducted a real-world test that began with a “single seed Wi-Fi IP address” from an “international airport” and assembled a “set of user IDs seen on network address over two weeks.”

The technique appears to be related to one outlined by University of California San Diego and Microsoft researchers in a 2010 research paper (PDF).

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